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How the Fracking Boom Impacts Rural Ohio

Energy

GreenCityBlueLake Institute

By David Beach

The shale gas drilling boom is not just a theoretical possibility for the 28,587 people of Carroll County, OH. They are already living with dramatic changes to the county’s woods and fields and rolling hills. This photo tour provides a glimpse of what it looks like when fracking comes to rural Ohio.

This is a close-up view of an active drilling site in Carroll County, OH. It's a noisy industrial place, full of the roar of diesel engines and clanking machinery. The work is episodic—drilling for a few weeks then operations to frack the well by pumping frack fluids under high pressure to prop open cracks in the shale to allow gas to flow. Photo credit: David Beach/GreenCityBlueLake

Carroll County is at the epicenter of fracking in Ohio. The sparsely populated county just southeast of Canton has more than 300 wells permitted for horizontal hydraulic fracturing in the Utica/Point Pleasant shale formation. Soon there could be several thousand wells.

Kicking up a fine, white dust, a backhoe appears to be blending drill cuttings with silica. The cuttings from the bore hole often contain radioactive elements and must be diluted in order to reduce radioactivity to a level permitted at Ohio landfills. Disposal at hazardous waste landfills would cost much more. Photo credit: David Beach/GreenCityBlueLake

A few weeks ago, I was able to fly over the county in a small plane to get a view of the impacts. The slideshow above presents the highlights of what I saw from the air and the ground—a variety of photos of well sites and gas processing facilities under construction.

It’s still early in the shale gas boom, but you can see the start of massive industrialization of the countryside. It’s pretty amazing.

Industry comes to the Ohio countryside. Here is an example of the development of new shale gas storage and processing facilities in and around Carroll County, OH. Some of these facilities represent investments of several hundred million dollars, and their size is an indication of the scale of fracking anticipated in Ohio. Photo credit: David Beach/GreenCityBlueLake

Thanks to Paul Feezel and Alan Kemerer of Carroll County Concerned Citizens for arranging my aerial tour of Carroll County. For details on shale well drilling and permitting in Ohio click here. For a map of drilling sites created by the FracTracker Alliance, click here.

One of the biggest impacts to the rural landscape and wildlife habitat is the construction of gas and oil pipelines. Carroll County, OH is already seeing pipeline construction to connect wells to processing facilities. Photo credit: David Beach/GreenCityBlueLake

For more photos of this aerial tour of Carroll County, OH, click here.

Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.

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